In this interactive Q&A session with Ignacio Palomera, the CEO of Bondex, we delve into the visionary path that led to the creation of Bondex, a platform redefining recruitment through tokenization and crowdsourcing. In the session, we also explore the disruptive potential of Bondex and gain a glimpse into the future of professional networking in the ever-evolving Web3 space.

Key Formative Experiences

Could you share a bit about your journey before Bondex? What were some key experiences that shaped your career path?

I began my career in the banking sector at HSBC, working with the mergers and acquisitions team in investment banking based in London. My focus was on the financial institutions group in the MENA area, particularly on banks and FinTech companies. I gained most of my knowledge about financial modeling, financial markets, how to value things and execute large operations, and a lot of discipline and hard work this way. 

Following my time at HSBC, I ventured into the world of cryptocurrency as an investor and joined a startup called Expert Network. Originally intended to be a freelancer marketplace on the blockchain, we later pivoted to artificial intelligence, concentrating on matching candidates with job opportunities. This experience broadened my understanding of the recruitment market and shaped my view that Web3 was the perfect way to disrupt it. 

After exiting Expert Network, I returned to traditional finance and worked with a private equity fund. During the 2020-2021 bull market, I saw that institutional adoption was coming and that the crypto jobs market got hot. It was the perfect time to launch this idea, which I have been thinking of for almost five to six years, involving a tokenized professional network that would disrupt and kill LinkedIn.

We then launched Bondex in August 2021, a side project between me and my co-founder. As it gained momentum, we boldly decided to commit to it full-time in November 2022.  Since then, our company has been steadily growing and evolving.

What led you to transition from traditional finance and M&A roles into the tech and blockchain space?

In traditional roles, I felt like a small part of a larger machine, yearning to make a significant impact. The typical career path would have been private equity, where I had some experience or a hedge fund. My journey into the crypto world began as an investor, drawn in by its potential to revolutionize the internet. If I stayed in my traditional M&A role, I might miss out on the next dot-com boom, which spawned many of today’s influential companies. 

With the emergence of Web3, there’s a chance to democratize the internet. What started as an investment venture led me to become a Web3 builder and entrepreneur, driven to champion internet freedom and develop products and services that positively impact humanity.

Inspiration for Value Creation with Bondex

What inspired the initial idea behind Bondex? Was there a particular moment or experience that triggered this venture?

This idea took shape in late 2018, during a session with Michael Casey, who is now the editor of Coindesk. We brainstormed how tokenization could enable the redistribution of value, a concept similar to equity rewards in traditional employment. Companies like Uber and Airbnb have tried to offer equity to their top hosts or drivers, but legal restrictions prevent this. Tokenization presented a new avenue for achieving this goal. That moment of insight stuck with me, leading me to refine and expand the model for permanent recruitment on LinkedIn, which I saw as a more promising opportunity than the crowded freelancer marketplace. This realization opened my eyes to the potential of Web3 to realign incentives and create a more positive cycle of value creation, ultimately leading to the creation of Bondex.

Could you describe the early days of Bondex – what were the main challenges, and how did you overcome them?

In the early days, we gained significant traction and secured a lead VC investment in 2022. Our fundraising efforts were successful, especially during market enthusiasm and high app traction. However, we faced challenges when the Luna collapse and the FTX incident occurred. This led to a significant drying up of VC funding opportunities, putting us in a precarious financial position.

Despite this, we were determined to keep the company afloat. We made significant sacrifices, including forgoing salaries for the founders and reducing everyone’s pay. The team rallied, contributing their efforts and resources to keep the company going. Despite the challenging winter period, we persevered, focusing on product development. I’m confident that our ecosystem partners will appreciate and benefit from the product we’ve created.

Optimization with Bondex

Bondex’s Job Portal is a significant innovation in recruitment! Can you elaborate on how Bondex utilizes crowdsourcing to optimize matches between employers and candidates?

First, thank you for your kind words! We’re incredibly enthusiastic about our disruptive and innovative idea to revolutionize recruitment through crowdsourcing. Our concept is to dis-intermediate and democratize the recruitment process, paralleling the Uber model. 

The goal is to reduce the cost and the time for companies to hire. That’s the value that they get. In the meantime, you’re democratizing hiring fees so that professional recruiters can be independent of the agencies they work for, who keep most of the value that they provide, and for anyone to monetize their networks, much like Uber enabled everyone with a car to monetize their skills and times with driving. We thought back about referral programs large companies had, and through product surveys and talking to HR professionals. The best tool any company has to build its teams is referrals.

Our inspiration came from observing large companies’ referral programs and conducting product surveys and discussions with HR professionals. Referrals constitute approximately 7% of incoming candidates for companies, yet they account for a substantial 45% of successful hires. This statistic highlighted a significant opportunity for disruption in the talent acquisition space.

To truly disrupt traditional talent platforms, we understood that simply tokenizing incentives wouldn’t suffice. We reimagined the incentive structure, leading us to the concept of crowdsourcing. The way it works is our company posts a bounty, which incentivizes users of our network, including professional recruiters and individuals with strong networks, to make recommendations. They use their “bond points” and reputation points earned on our app to provide unique referrals for the recruiting role. By tying their reputation to the referral, they are incentivized to provide high-quality recommendations, reducing spam.

Our AI algorithm then parses the resumes, matches them to the job description, and does a little auto-rejection and filtering of the first round of candidates. Then, our talent operations team, composed of very experienced recruiters, is the last quality assurance check. We will have 200 applicants, but per week, we will provide four candidates on average who are ranked and rated by Bondex and are qualified and engaged. This provides the same services as a recruitment agency at a fraction of the cost.

Bondex offers referral rewards to all users, enabling them to act as recruiters. How has this democratization of the recruitment process impact the efficiency of matching job seekers with employers?

Traditional talent platforms lack engagement and stickiness after people get their jobs because they can only play one role in a talent platform. You’re either the recruiter, the employer, or the talented user. At Bondex, the kind of innovative features we have added is that you can play multiple roles at once to not just help in making the matchmaking as a recruiter but also help us increase essentially the supply and demand of the marketplace and match it. This is a key innovation, not just because it helps in the efficiency of job matching but also because it enables any user to have access to economic opportunities that were reserved for intermediaries in the past and are kept away from them. Democratization is essential. 

The impact and efficiency in matching job seekers is that people can take that recruiter role and help their friends find dream and well-placed jobs. They also help companies find the talent they need, and flourishing matchmaking adds value to both parties. They should feel good about being incentivized as we keep the cost and timing low, making it more efficient for both the employers and the candidates. This is one of the main parts talent networking uses, which allows multiple roles simultaneously.

Innovative Recruitment Process

How does Bondex ensure quality and relevance in the recruitment process when leveraging the collective reach of user networks?

That’s part of job boards’ issue today and web-to-professional networks. There is so much noise on social networks because there are zero-sum games. They are mainly for volume. You have nothing to lose. That is one of the key things we want to do. One is we have a tokenized reputation. So that means that to enable actions, put your bond points down, which is your reputation. That is a filter for spam and noise because it allows and incentivizes more meaningful interconnections. So that’s the first filter. 

The second filter is an automated AI matching that does the first auto-rejection filtering at scale by keyword matching with resumes and job descriptions and ensuring that you match your experience, talent, or location. Many people misapply, and companies also have more filtering than they usually have in a job description. So, that’s the second filtering for quality. The last one we have is a talent operations team, and as our AI improves and gets better over time with the training of the data. Human touch is still required when they look at the last candidates that have been filtered. Let’s say there are ten, but when they go over ten, they will ensure they are engaged candidates looking for a job and excited about it. 

They perform a quality assurance check between the qualifications and the filtering to ensure that the matching is good, and they work on making it more efficient. Therefore, this person will get an interview and be successful in the recruitment process. The company also saves time and money because they do not deal with all the noise of filtering all these candidates themselves. This is how we do the quality process or filtering process of OnDex.

How does Bondex position itself against established Web2 recruitment platforms? What are the key competitive advantages?

There are so many. Number one, instead of competing against the Web2 recruitment platforms at first, because we’re a Web3 solution, even though we could work in the general staffing market, you need to have a beachhead market and focus instead of boiling the ocean. In our case, we’re not just a Web3 method, but we’re also focusing on the Web3 industry in which we believe that companies and employers and users and talent and recruiters are willing to try out a new innovative way based on Web3 principles to get their hiring done and help us make decentralized recruitment happen.

The Web2 competition transition will come over time. I think that one of the key factors is focusing on younger generations that will be much more receptive to the narrative of a network, a social network that shares its value with its users versus just using them as products. That is one of the main competitive advantages. Social networks in Web2, professional or not, you think you’re getting a free product, but guess what? You are the product, and your data is a product, and the social graph is the product, so the idea with Bondex long term, which is web3, is a journey we are starting as web 2.5 and, over time, evolving to Web3. 

Our platform empowers users by giving them ownership of their social graph and data. Users can decide how their data is monetized and receive a share of the value they contribute to the network. This approach is a key competitive advantage, enabling us to vie with free products by redistributing value to users. We operate on a meritocratic system, where users are rewarded based on their value to the network, encouraging high-value users to contribute more. Additionally, our tokenized reputation system promotes ethical, social networking by rewarding users with reputation points, similar to a premium currency in video games, reflecting their status and community engagement.

This system incentivizes positive behavior, where users earn badges and points contributing to their reputation. Users show their commitment to certain actions by spending these earned rewards, such as connecting with new individuals. Unlike Web2 social networks, which often devolve into zero-sum games focused on selling and monetization, our platform encourages meaningful interactions. This focus on meaningful connections is another competitive advantage.

Additionally, our platform leverages the crowdsourcing of recruitment, a concept not unique to us but refined from successful models used by companies like Amazon and Google. We’ve adapted these models into a professional network setting, combining them with a bounty-based marketplace approach. This integration creates a more efficient go-to-market strategy, driving increased traffic to our job portal. This influx of traffic leads to a higher volume of qualified candidates, ultimately resulting in faster and more cost-effective hiring for companies.

The question then becomes: why would recruiters be interested? Despite potentially smaller bounties, recruiters stand to earn more than they would at an agency, as they can retain a larger percentage of their fees. This, combined with our other competitive advantages, makes Bondex an appealing option for recruiters and companies alike.

In summary, these competitive advantages, along with others that we are strategically keeping confidential, position Bondex as a disruptive presence in the recruitment industry. 

How does Bondex tackle data security and user privacy issues within its platform?

We utilize the best-centralized databases, specifically a combination of MongoDB and Azure. This shift follows our migration from AWS and Firebase, ensuring we use top-tier providers. Our CTO is an expert in security and data protection, diligently overseeing these aspects. We aim to transition operations onto a blockchain, progressively enhancing GDPR compliance. Ultimately, users will own and have full control over their data and privacy. Presently, we rely on third-party providers while maintaining stringent security practices. For instance, we utilize Toggle, a decentralized KYC provider to address recruiter KYC. This aligns with our core principles, as users who undergo KYC can withdraw their documentation at any time, with us never having access to it. Our approach ensures no centralized entity holds user data; instead, users retain control.

Exciting Partnerships and Plans

What are you most excited about in Bondex’s future? Are there any upcoming features or partnerships you can share with us?

There are a lot of things I’m eager about. We have worked on our Web2 roadmap, which was making the app and the web platform. First, I’m very excited we’re going to a tier-one launch pad to begin the token TGE through an IDO in March of this year. I am also thrilled to have launched our core product of the bounty-based job board and partner with amazing companies you can all see on our platform. Being part of the chain link build program and their accelerator will help us distribute this product to the best companies in the Web3 ecosystem.

After that, we’ll start listing in a few centralized exchanges towards the summer. We’re in talks with some of the best ones out there. I am very excited about partnering with all those players and starting our token journey. In terms of the features that we’re going to be providing? What are some excited about? This first part of the year is about battle-testing the job portal. So, it is like iterating the product and the business model. 

So we have a sustainable recruitment and talent side to things. That means that the client is getting the best possible service. We do that by gathering feedback throughout the hiring processes that they’re running, getting candidates hired, and then implementing that feedback into the product to make it better. One of the things, for example, is gamification to reward talent acquisition specialists and enterprise users for their good behaviors and usage. We gamify and tokenize everything for the talent and the recruiters.

How do you see Bondex evolving in the next five years, especially with the rapidly changing landscape of blockchain technology?

I believe Bondex is a key driver for widespread adoption. What excites me is our existing block space, solving the infrastructure layer that Ethereum struggled with regarding L2s and L1s. With this abundant block space, we focus on creating standout consumer applications and gaming experiences to attract the next billion users. 

This shift from blockchain’s speculative casino aspect, which has largely driven adoption, is exciting. We aim to open doors for more people to enter the space through career and education opportunities. Over the next five years, I envision Bondex as a Web 2.5 bridge, paving the way for mass adoption by offering a product superior to current Web2 incumbents like LinkedIn. Like how TikTok transformed social networking, I want Bondex to revolutionize the professional networking space. This is our long-term vision and what I am enthusiastic about to catalyze the mass adoption of Web3.

The information provided does not, and is not intended to, constitute financial advice; instead, all information, content, and materials are for general informational purposes only. Information may not constitute the most up-to-date information and readers must do their own due diligence and assume responsibility for their own actions. Links to other third-party websites are only for the convenience of the reader, user or browser; Cryptopolitan and its members do not recommend or endorse contents of the third-party sites.

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Brian Koome

Brian Koome is a cryptocurrency enthusiast who has been involved with blockchain projects since 2017. He enjoys discussions that revolve around innovative technologies and their implications for the future of humanity.

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